Kobbekaduwa Murder

Place: Sri Lanka | Courtesy: Collection
| Date: 19920800

The Sri Lankan army chief, Lt. Gen. Denzil Kobbekaduwa, was killed in an explosion in August 1992, in the northern town of Kayts. The Sri Lanka government and the army immediately blamed the LTTE for this murder.

An International Commission1 appointed by President Premadasa concluded that it was a landmine planted by the LTTE that killed the general.

A formal inquiry by the army also found the LTTE to be guilty.

International newswire services (Reuters and Associated Press) repeated this claim in their news stories for several months.

The Far Eastern Economic Review was sure; the caption on the news read, "Tiger's Prey" [20 Aug 92]. Even a Tamil publication, the London based Tamil Times [15 July 93] repeated the lie.

This fabrication was perpetuated for years despite rumors that it was an inside job carried out by others in the Sri Lanka army. There were witnesses who claimed to have seen a video-tape of a bomb being planted under the seat of the general's vehicle. A British expert J.R. Wyatt, based on photographs of the crater left by the explosion, had concluded that the explosive device could not have been a landmine. All these were silenced, to keep the lie (of an LTTE plot) alive.

Now a Presidential Commission2 has found that it was not merely rival officers in the army, but the former President of Sri Lanka, R. Premadasa, himself was responsible for this murder.

The Commission also said there was reason to believe that the General was "killed by a bomb planted in his jeep and not by a landmine explosion as suggested by earlier investigations."

1. International Commission consisting of three Commonwealth Judges [Justice Austin Necabeohe Evans Amissah (Ghana), Sir Kenneth James Keith (New Zealand) and Justice Muhammadu Lawal Uwais (Nigeria)] appointed to enquire into this assassination submitted this report on 24 June 93.

2. AFP REPORT: FORMER PRESIDENT LINKED TO ASSASSINATIONS TRIED TO SHIFT THE BLAME ON TAMIL TIGERS.

COLOMBO, Oct 7 (AFP) - Sri Lanka's former president Ranasinghe Premadasa was responsible for two high profile assassinations and tried to shift the blame onto Tamil Tiger guerrillas, a fresh probe reported Tuesday.

An investigation into the killings of former minister Lalith Athulathmudali and army General Denzil Kobbekaduwa found that president Premadasa was "directly responsible for the two killings," state radio reported.

State radio quoted the findings of a special commission appointed by President Chandrika Kumaratunga as saying that underworld elements working for Premadasa was responsible for the killings.

The commission also recommended the taking away of the civic rights of a Premadasa stalwart, former housing minister Sirisena Cooray, who is accused of suppressing evidence Athulathmudali was shot dead during an election campaign meeting in 1993 while Kobbekaduwa was blown up in a mine attack in the northern Jaffna district in August 1992.

Premadasa was president at the time and the then government blamed the assassinations on the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who are still fighting security forces in the island's northeast.

Less than a week after the assassination of Athulathmudali, Premadasa himself was killed by a suspected Tamil Tiger suicide bomber during a May Day procession here.

Premadasa is also accused of involvement in the 1988 killing of President Kumaratunga's actor turned politician husband Vijaya Kumaratunga who was a serious political challenger to Premadasa.